Being someone who loves food, language and their history, I’m curious about the word “turkey.” For me it’s a head-scratcher. There are only a couple of species of large birds that are relatives to our Thanksgiving favorite: the wild turkey of North America and another that’s native to the Yucatán Peninsula. What does that have to do with the country of Turkey?
The Aztecs domesticated their large birds, and the Spanish conquistadors misidentified them as guinea fowl. During the sixteenth century, guinea fowl were imported to Europe from Madagascar through…wait for it…Turkey. The bird traders became known as turkey merchants, and their product shortened to “turkey” in English by 1555.
It makes some sense, but how about common phrases like, “talking turkey,” a “turkey shoot,” a “turkey” in bowling, or, “That movie’s a ‘turkey’”? Any idea about those?
A “turkey shoot” in the middle of the 20th century was a marksmanship competition where turkeys were tied to a log; and their heads stuck up as targets, you know the rest. A “turkey” as a failure comes from Hollywood in the 1920s. And in bowling, 100 years ago, during Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks, bowling alleys would give a live turkey to the first bowler who could get three strikes in a row.
But “talking turkey”? Not a clue.
Speaking of “talking turkey”, check out this really cool recipe.
Buffalo Deep Fried Turkey
1 (10 to 12 pound) Fresh Whole Turkey
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup Monarch hot sauce
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 cups Buffalo-style sauce
3 gallons peanut oil, for frying
Combine chicken broth, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl; mix well. Preheat oil in a deep fryer to 400°. Remove giblets and neck from the turkey. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Inject 1/2 cup mixture into each side of turkey breast. Inject 1/4 cup mixture into each leg/thigh area. Place turkey, breast side up, in basket. Slowly lower basket into hot oil, being cautious of splattering oil. Maintain oil temperature at about 350°. Fry turkey for 3-1/2 minutes per pound. Remove from oil to check for doneness. Insert an instant-read thermometer into thickest part of thigh, not touching bone. Temperature should be 180°.
Remove turkey from hot oil and drain on paper towels. Coat the outside of the turkey with Buffalo-style sauce. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Unbelievable Flavor – Enjoy